Prose from Poetry Magazine

Snow City Arts Portfolio

Poems and visual art by Snow City Arts students.

Snow City Arts provides one-on-one instruction in the visual arts, creative writing, music, theater, and media arts to pediatric patients at four Chicagoland hospitals. Over the last twenty years, we have taught sixteen thousand students and have led more than fifty thousand art workshops.

When a Snow City Arts teaching artist knocks on a door and is invited into a potential student’s hospital room, the teaching artist needs to find the right catalyst as soon as they can. They never know how much time they are going to have with a student, so they jump right in, working under the philosophy that in art a student learns best by doing, working in “yes    ...    and” relationships with the teaching artist. No matter what form of art inspires the student, whether it be painting, photography, music, film, or theater, they are exposed to a variety of art-making materials, learning basic to more advanced techniques and practices through studio-based pedagogy.

Students often do their work through their discomforts and pains, anxieties and exhaustions. Whatever the media, we are consistently amazed at the artworks born out of the chaos and discomfort of the students’ circumstances. That said, we consider the art and poetry not as the work of the “sick” but as the work of serious artistic explorers and apprentices, novices and experts. In this small portfolio, we have paired poems with visual art. The conversation created between these two mediums symbolizes the multitude of conversations between teaching artist and student artist that have been, and continue to be, the impetuses for the now tens of thousands of art-making 
encounters we have had the pleasure of facilitating since 1998, when the first teaching artist — a poet — stepped into a room at Rush University Children’s Hospital and asked, “Would you like to make some art with me?”

Click the slideshow above to view poems and artworks by students of Snow City Arts.

Originally Published: April 2nd, 2018

Eric Elshtain has worked as a teaching artist for Snow City Arts since 2005. He edits Beard of Bees Press and his poetry book is This Thin Memory A-ha (Verge Books, 2014).

Appeared in Poetry Magazine This Appears In